Transition to Transitions

A yellow composition notebook on a table, with a cup of pens next to it

I write these blog posts in a yellow composition notebook, then type them up. Last Saturday I ran out of pages.

Before I start a new notebook—this next one is black—I look through the old one. I want to make sure there isn’t anything I need to pull forward—an idea or a bit of writing started but not completed and something I want to pursue.

There were a few things.

There was a high-level outline for an informational piece based on the link that people here clicked more than any other (the one about what to do with my stuff after I’m gone). Yesterday, I fleshed out the outline and feel good about it. I’m going to turn it into an ebook.

There was a writing prompt for journaling I want to remember:

  1. What do I want to let go of?
  2. What do I want to embrace in this moment?
  3. What do I want to create moving forward?

There was a page where I wrote about an old fear, the one about the bag lady. I talked about her with a friend and she helped me see that the fear is not so much about running out of money as it is about shame. I feared that people who know me would see me living under a bridge and say, “She was stupid. She left her job too soon.”

I assured my friend, and in case you are worried about me, I will assure you, too—I have enough. When I do the math and when my financial advisor does the math the answer is the same—I have enough.

My friend asked what I would do if I suddenly needed a lot of money, a problematic amount of money.

I said, “Go to my mom, I guess. I mean, she has money. She could help, I think.”

She waited for me to say more but I didn’t. “How does that feel for you?” she asked.

“Horrible.” (I felt a storm of shame.)

“Okay, so let’s not do that. If there comes a point where you have something happen and you need a lot of money and you don’t know what to do, come to me. I’m pretty good at helping people figure things out.”

“Okay. Thank you.” (and tears)

“I don’t want you to be alone with this.”

“Thank you.” (more tears)

After that conversation with my friend, I wrote something in my composition book that I copied into the new one:

“I have lost a husband and been fine. I have left a career and been fine. I have sold my house and bought one without a job and been fine. I have started a business and been fine. I really haven’t been giving myself or the Universe enough credit.”

Looking through that composition book was interesting for another reason. I started it on April 3rd with the Structural Weakness post and ran out of pages on July 4th. During those three months—during a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, demands for racial justice, and my own worries—I was prolific.

I wrote fifteen blog posts, ten scenes that were homework for a writing workshop I’m taking, letters to me from Love, a revised outline for my novel, character sketches, and a new scene for my novel where I experimented with a different point of view.

There is a lesson in this yellow book. The lesson is: Do not assume your feelings have anything to do with your output.

I don’t recall being especially happy during this time, or very motivated. I was grateful, I remember that. But simply—there was work in front of me to do and I did it.

The work for me to do next week is to draft the list of ideas for the posts related to Managing Transitions (actually, I did that already, as soon as I finished writing this) and to write the first post.

That is my work.

I don’t have to worry about it or psych myself up for it. I just have to do it. And I will.

Chewing the Cud of Good

An aerial view of "Black Lives Matter" painted on a street, with the interior of each letter painted by a different artist. The colors of "Black" are reds, "Lives" is black, and "Matter" is green

There are times Cincinnati frustrates me and times when the city gets it right. This was done back in June. The schedule was:

  • Idea on Sunday
  • City Council vote on Wednesday
  • Paint on Thursday and Friday
  • Unveil on Saturday, for Juneteenth

Thankful for the human ability to learn and change and move quickly.

2 thoughts on “Transition to Transitions”

  1. Your friend’s insight is remarkable, but so is yours.
    Other people have shut down during the pandemic and yet you are prolific. What happened with your writing early in the pandemic?

    1. Chris, this one is taking some time to figure out—what did I do at the beginning of Covid-19? Here’s the answer, by week:
      Feb 10, the last week that I go to the library to write and the last time I read with the first grader in the literacy program
      Feb 17, in Nashville for a writing workshop
      Feb 24, working on the refresh of my website and studying the plots of Rocky and Working Girl
      Mar 02, learning the new emailing application for my website, 2019 tax prep
      Mar 09, struggles with the email application—for days, wrap up tax prep
      Mar 16, back to my novel, looking at the sags and holes in the plot
      Mar 23, start writing Sprints with other writers via Zoom; this gives me a feeling of connectedness; work on a scene for my novel and a Sprint assignment
      Mar 30, more novel work and a new Sprint assignment

      The Sprint assignments were fun. We’d watch a movie clip, such as Jack Nicholson trying to charm Shirley McClain, and then write our own scene using the movie clip as a model, an example of a masterwork. I wrote lots of different things for the assignments, things I never would have written otherwise, such as a horror scene modeled after Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Let me know if you’d like to see that one—it’s creepy!

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